It's Epic Thursday again, and this week I'm hosting my first, and Amazingly Awesome CP, Carrie Bastyr !
YA writer and mother of two. Friend of the voices in my head. Lover of ALL the book boyfriends. Bigger lover of THE Husband. Fan of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, the color pink, and the word awesome. Easily amused.
After school, I find Adam talking to Declan in the parking lot. They’re both grinning and laughing, and I slip up behind them. Adam’s smile doubles when he sees me, but Declan’s eyes darken and his face tightens.
“Hey,” Adam says. He steps closer to me as if he’s going to take me into his arms but stops, leaving inches of empty space between us.
I’m buzzing, my skin itching to touch his.
“Hey Sage. Good to see you Adam.” I jump at Declan’s voice. I had forgotten he was there. He shifts his gaze between us, slaps Adam’s arm, and salutes before disappearing into the crowded lot.
There’s a moment of awkward silence before Adam steps back until he’s leaning against the rear of his mom’s car. He crosses his arms.
“So,” I say. “Does Declan know we’re leaving?”
“No, unless you told him?” His eyes are unreadable. I shake my head. “You sure you want to go?”
I nod like a shaken bobblehead, hard and fast. If I’m too slow…if I hesitate, I may change my mind.
“How long do you think you need to get ready?”
I slide my phone from my pocket and glance at the numbers. “What time do we need to leave by?”
“Around five. We should be to the airport by 6:30.” His gaze burns into me as he answers, but I don’t look up from my phone. In a few hours, I will be on a plane. I haven’t flown since my dad’s death.
But this is Adam and I don’t want to lose him.
My fingers shake as I nod. “Okay.”
For the next two hours I tell more lies than my mom tells herself. There are the excuses for missing work, the excuses for missing school, the excuses for Stella. Adam says to tell no one where we’re going.
He says if his dad or his mom found out, they would try to stop us.
My heart does the jitterbug over and over on the hour and half drive to the airport. My eyes glue themselves to the rearview mirror.
But nobody follows us.
There is a police car outside the doors to the airport, but nobody stops us. Not security. Not the ticket agent. Not the tired looking woman at the boarding gate.
We are steps from the entrance to the gateway. My heart crashes like falling dishes and my shaky legs are mere minutes from collapsing.
I lick my lips and hug my arms against my stomach. Fear is burning along my throat and mouth and skin. I can taste it. The people and the noise and the colors of the airport spin hazily around me.
And I start seeing things.. My dad is kissing me goodbye and the cops are at the door and my mother is crying. The casket surrounded by his friends. Their faces are darker than the clothes they wear and they pat my head and kiss my cheek. They whisper and watching me, waiting for me to cry. Wanting me to cry.
But I can’t.
Strong, I must be strong. I promised him.
And I’m in the airport doubled over, burning and aching. Adam’s hands clutch my shoulders and his voice buzzes in my ear. I look up into his face soft and scarred.
Images flash again. The plane and the fiery wreckage. The reporters, lots of reporters. The men in suits who asked so many questions. Lawyers, movers, boxes of daddy’s stuff being carried away.
It’s the airport again and I can’t breathe, I can’t speak. Adam still leans over me, his voice in my ear asking me if I’m okay, begging me to talk.
“Miss?” The gate agent presses a hand on my shoulder and her eyes are mix of business and compassion. “Are you okay? Can you board?”
People wait behind us and the entrance waits before us. I can almost hear the whirring and rushing air of the gateway. The grinding of the plane.
I can see the narrow aisles and small seats and the metal seatbelts.
"Sage?" Adam is asking.
"I—I'm sorry. Go without me." My chest aches and my lungs burn and tears slip from the corners of my eyes.
"No," he says. "I’m so sorry…I wasn’t thinking….your dad" And then he's holding me and his shirt is wet. I wipe the back of my hand across my cheek and look up at him.
“No, really go. You need to go and get your answers.”
"C'mon," he says. "We'll just have to drive." And he's pulling my hand back through the airport to the parking lot.
"Are you crazy?" I say when we get into the car. "It's going to take us days to get there. Really, just go without me."
"I want you with me. Trust me, okay."
“I’m not sure this is the best idea.” Each step away from the airport quiets the images, my breath, and my heart.
“As long as you’re with me it will be fine,” Adam says and he reaches for my hand entwining his fingers into mine. Shivers of fire shoot through me warming my skin and my veins and my bones. I shift closer to him, hoping he’ll reach for me, hoping he’ll kiss me.
But he squeezes my hand and lets go to start the car. He pulls out of the parking lot, out of the airport.
And drives south.
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